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Category: Archive

Irish divorce rate peaks

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN – Ireland’s divorce rate reached a record level last year according to figures released by the Courts Service, which show that far more wives than husbands are applying to end their marriages.

There were 3,459 divorce applications to the Circuit Court and 2,817 were granted last year. Only one was refused. The High Court also had 31 applications and granted 20 divorces.

The number of divorces had risen every year since it was introduced in 1997 when just 93 were granted.

Application for a judicial separation was received from 3,459 people last year and 1,018 were granted in the Circuit Court and 27 in the High Court.

Last year, 1,748 wives and 1,069 husbands sought a divorce. The number of wives seeking a judicial separation was almost five times the number of applications from husbands.

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Having marriages annulled has also grown in popularity, rising from three in 1997 to 59 in the Circuit Court last year and four in the High Court. The cheaper cost of nullities is thought to be the reason for the increase.

The battle for divorce went on for ten years and involved two referenda, two Supreme Court cases and extensive Oireachtas legislation.

A number of doomsayers had predicted there would be “unbridled chaos” when it was introduced with a rush to the courts.

Official census figures in 1996 had shown marital breakdown had increased by 135 percent in the previous ten years and there were 87,800 separated couples.

There were fears the demand to regularize their situation in law would clog up the family courts system.

However, there have been only 9,343 divorces and 5,334 judicial separations granted in the last five years.

Under the Family Law Divorce Act, the Circuit and High Courts can grant a divorce decree once satisfied that the couple has been living apart for at least four of the previous five years.

There must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation and provision must be made for the spouse and children.

Legal separations had been available prior to 1997 but people were not allowed to re-marry until then.

Family law cases involving divorce, nullities and child custody matters are held in camera and the media cannot report details.

However, the Government is considering a pilot project that would permit reporting of judgments while the prohibition on naming the parties involved would continue.

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